By Evelyn Masaba
There are places you travel to in this world that were made to take our breath away, places that leave you marvelling at the wonders of nature. When you go to such places, you feel like you never want to leave.
Such places were created to bring out the zen lost within you; the moment you behold them you feel all the peace in the world descending on you.
Lake Bunyonyi is one of those places. Tucked away in the hills of Kabale and Kisoro districts in south-western Uganda near the border with Rwanda, the lake has one of the most beautiful views that are worth the five-hour drive from Kampala.
The lake is estimated to be 25km long and 7km wide and with an altitude of 6,437ft. It is surrounded by hills that are 7,218 to 8,130ft high. These hills are quite beautiful when viewed from an aerial point due to the farming activities carried out by the people who live in this area. Lake Bunyonyi is rumoured to be the second deepest lake in Africa, estimated to be 44m to 900m deep.
The biggest population of people in the area are Bakiga and Batwa who have resided here for centuries and live by cultivating the land and rearing cattle.
The area has wonderful weather throughout the year, with rain and mildly hot days coming through the months. This area is very suitable for farming and, best of all, vacationing for tourists. As is always the case all over Uganda, the residents around Lake Bunyonyi are very friendly, meaning your stay there will be warmly welcomed.
There are enough hotels and lodgings such as Arcadia Lodges plus campsites where one can find good accommodation for their stay whilst taking in the beauty of Lake Bunyonyi.
Over the lake, there are 29 islands that can be seen almost floating and in the morning before sunrise, there will be mist slightly rising off the surface of the lake, hiding the islands.
The islands make the lake look magical. When you see them from a distance, it is easy to think that you are somewhere in the Maldives without the coral of the ocean. One of the best locations to view them throughout the day is up in the hills. You can take a day from dawn to dusk and watch how they always seem to emerge from the shadows of the morning and glow throughout the day and gaze at the reflections of the stars in the sky dancing over the lake at night.
Lake Bunyonyi literally means “Place of many little birds”. True to its name, you will find here so many different bird species that call the islands and the shores of the lake home. Some of them are indigenous to the area while others migrate in. There are over 200 bird species that can be found in the area, meaning any birding enthusiast would be amazed by what they would find here. Species ranging from shoebills, wobblers to the ever beautiful crested cranes and of course the “little birds” can be easily sighted during a birding expedition.
The islands are so massive you just have to take a day off and have a tour of the ones closest to the mainland, see nature’s little wonders with beautiful views of the lake. Take a canoe ride with a professional guide on Lake Bunyonyi or set sails on a boat and have a romantic picnic while at it.
Nature walks and hikes
Most of the shores and neighbouring areas around Lake Bunyonyi are hilly and forested, which make for good nature walks. You can enjoy a day communing with nature or hike up one of the hills especially in the morning or evening when the weather is cool and breezy.
Kibale National Park
A little distance from the lake, you will find Kibale National Park, where you can go for chimpanzee trekking through the thick forests that cover most of the park and learn something new about the other animals that live in that area.